One of the biggest challenges we face as Personal Trainers is mastering the art of client assessment.
There’s this BIG debate in the fitness industry that many of us (Personal Trainers) are getting too caught up in trying to ‘fix’ our clients…
…That we treat our clients like rehab patients and how many of us are stepping outside of our ‘scope of practice’ when assessing clients.
And, while I agree that we should not perform anything beyond what we are qualified to do I have a problem when I hear or read about how Personal Trainers should stick to ‘conducting exercise programs for apparently healthy individuals’ and leave the assessment part to Physical Therapists.
Our job as Personal Trainers is to develop and implement fitness program to help our clients achieve their fitness goals.
But, in order to develop an exercise program we need the necessary information that allows us to do this.
And, that’s where the importance of assessing clients comes in.
There are a few problems I see with how most Personal Training courses teach client assessment.
- Most assessments provide general information about a client without telling the ‘whole story’.
Look, I’m all for measuring body composition, taking girth measurements, testing flexibility and cardiovascular fitness and the like but these assessments are pretty much useless for the majority of our clients who deal with shoulder, lower back or knee problems that are keeping them from achieving their fitness goals.
- Most personal training courses fail to teach specific assessments.
If we’re assessing a client’s posture and notice upper cross syndrome (forward rounded shoulders, protracted shoulder blades, etc) it’s easy to assume the client has tightness of the pectorals, the internal shoulder rotators and weakness of the scapular stabilizers.
And, typically stretching those tight muscles along with some foam rolling might be in order.
But, how do you know for sure?
What if this client really only had tight lats? That would make all those pec stretches and rotator cuff stretches ineffective.
- Most personal training courses teach assessments without a specific model for using them.
Assessments often seem to be thrown in with no specific order or system for applying them.
I don’t think it’s a case of Personal Trainers needing to become Physical Therapists to perform more specific assessments.
But, let’s be honest here…the majority of clients do not fit the classification of ‘apparently healthy’ or ‘without physical limitations’.
And, it’s not realistic nor practical to refer every client with nagging shoulder, low back or knee pain to their doctor or Physical Therapist.
This is backed up by organizations like the American Council On Exercise who offer their Post-Orthopedic Rehabilitation program for Personal Trainers…
..And the NASM who’s Personal Training model is one of the most widely used (if not THE most widely used) in the fitness industry. Oh yeah, and that model was created by Michael Clark, one of the top Physical Therapist’s in the country!
If we truly want to earn the respect and recognition we deserve as true fitness professionals we need to step beyond ‘ordinary’.
The same old ‘run-of-the-mill’ assessments like curl-up tests, push-up tests and sit and reach tests will do very little to help the majority of clients reach their fitness goals.
Teaching our clients how to perform movements they use on a daily basis like squatting, balancing and lifting overhead without the nagging aches and pains associated with those movements will do much more in helping them reach their fitness goals.
Create a better assessment system and get better results for your clients.
Go beyond ordinary…Be extraordinary!
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